It’s not scary, it’s not difficult, and it doesn’t take years to learn. I think I can prove that to you though this crash course on computer programming. It’s not going to get you a job at Google, but it will let you figure out which words are used most frequently in the book “Alice in Wonderland”, or generate a list of anagrams for your friend’s names! Isn’t technology amazing?
Don’t know the first thing about programming? No problem! This is meant to apply to a huge audience. In fact, I think anyone who knows how to work a computer should be able to complete this class with a little amount of concentration and motivation. Programming has become ubiquitous in our lives and is ultra-useful for solving even simple problems that just might take took long to do with a calculator.
There are many different programming “languages” that can be used for writing programs. You’ve probably heard of a few of the more popular ones: C, Java, BASIC and the like. This class will focus on a newer language called “Python”. Python is a great language to start learning programming with because it doesn’t require much knowledge of the nitty-gritty of what your computer is doing behind the scenes, or how memory is managed. If you can describe to your friend how you would solve a problem in the real world, you can describe it to the computer in a similar fashion in Python.
This class will pretty closely follow the material Google has provided for their crash-course on python. This is a great class; Nick Parlante is a Stanford/Google instructor, is way more qualified than I am, and is very engaging. Access class materials (lectures, exercises, example code snippets) here:
We will be watching the lecture videos in class, and will work on the exercises individually, in pairs, or small groups. We will also have a few python experts on hand to answer questions. A big advantage to following the lectures is if you can’t make it to one of our class days, you can watch the lecture you missed and work on the associated exercise at home to stay caught up.
The schedule is as follows:
Day1, Sunday, 1/1, 7pm-9pm:
What is programming? How does ‘code’ work? This day is optional for people who already know at least 1 other programming language at a beginner level. (variables, control statements, functions)
Day2, Friday, 1/6, 8pm-10pm:
Introduction to Python, running code. (Strings, lists, sorting – lectures 1.1, 1.2)
Day3, Sunday, 1/8, 2:30pm-5:00pm:
Working with text and files. (dictionaries, regular expressions, file access – lectures 1.3, 2.1)
Day4, Friday, 1/13, 8:00pm-10:00pm:
Using other people’s code (modules) and harnessing the internet (HTTP, URLS, parsing, scraping – lectures 2.2, 2.3, 2.4)
Day5, Sunday, 1/15, 2:30pm-5pm:
This will be an extra make-up or group project day for people who need some extra time to finish the last assignment, or just want to work on something together.
By the end of the class, you will have made a few fun example programs. Yep, we’re going to make these programs in class! WE’LL DO IT LIVE!
1) A program that will use social security administration data to tell you how popular any baby name was over time.
2) A program that will take all of the files in a folder that have a special name, and compress them into a zip file.
3) A program that searches through a text file and pulls out image url links, the program will then download these images from the internet, and piece them together like puzzle pieces to reveal a picture!
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